The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has faulted the judgment of an Upper Sharia Court in Kano State sentencing a 13-year-old boy, Umar Farouq, to 10 years in prison for making derogatory statements toward Allah in an argument with a friend.
Farouq was convicted on August 10, 2020, by Aliyu Kanu, the same judge who sentenced a Musician, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, to death for blaspheming Prophet Mohammed.
Baba-Jibo Ibrahim, spokesman for Kano Region Justice Ministry, said the court handed down the death sentence as enshrined in Islamic laws based on irrefutable evidence and the convict’s admission of guilt.
although Farouq is a minor by Nigerian law and should not have been tried as an adult, Islamic canons regard anyone who has begun puberty as an adult.
Kano, a predominantly Muslim northern Nigerian state, has Islamic Sharia courts that function alongside civil courts and introduced Sharia law in 2000.
But the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has condemned the blasphemy laws in Nigeria.
The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan Federal Government entity established by the US Congress to monitor, analyse, and report threats to religious freedom abroad.
In a statement in reaction to the judgment, the US commission condemned the death sentence handed to Sharif-Aminu for allegedly insulting the Prophet Mohammed.
USCIRF Commissioner, Frederick Davie, stated,
Also, the President of the African Bar Association, Mr Hannibal Uwaifo, described the verdict on Farouq as unconstitutional, calling on the Attorney General of the Federation to stop the Sharia court from making a mockery of Nigerian on the international scene.
In the same vein, two civil society groups have condemned the Shari’a court verdict.